GM in Spain (infographic)

Last week we collectively worked on creating an infographic that captured in a single image the main issues around GM Maize in Spain. Of course, as any infographic, it just highlights some of the relevant dimensions of the controversy of GM crops in Spain. But we think it can help to understand what is going on in the European country with higher number of cultivated area of GM crops. Actually, it is both a simplified, visual and updated version of what we tell in the section “Spain, a telltale case of the impossibility of coexistence” of our paper Just Existing is Resisting: The Everyday Struggle against the expansion of GM Crops in Spain.

It is also an infographic to be used in the interactive website we are preparing in which we are condensing much of the knowledge we have acquired through all these years of agri/cultures research.

Below you can see the result. Please, share it widely!

Countdown to release our interactive website

It’s been a while since I last update about the development of our interactive website.

The aim is to create an interactive tool to explore and understand some of the main traits of each of the different agri-food systems we have been studying in the last 3 years, as well as offer a way to be able to compare these systems and facilitate the identification of their main differences. It is meant to be used mainly by students and, of course, anyone else interested in the issue.

Slow but steady, we are getting there. Now we have on board a web designer and a programmer who is about to start putting the different pieces developed (i.e text, video, fotos, design) together. An important part of the content is the creation of short videos which can illustrate or add valuable information to the text content found in each of the nodes. We aim at releasing in in early January. We’ll keep you updated about this issue!

As a part of the content for the interactive website, a couple of weeks ago we interviewed a GM farmer. He was a kind man and his interview was very interesting. When asked about the benefits of GM crops, he answered that, even if GM crops around his area are claimed to be less productive and he is aware of some of the controversy regarding GM crops (i.e he actually literally said that he did not know whether GM crops were actually good for consumers), he used them because they gave him ‘tranquility’ and avoided him headaches with the potential problem of the corn borer plague. His fields were actually not exactly next door where he lived and he could not go often to see how they were doing. By sowing GM crops, he perceived that his task as a manager of the field was facilitated.

Of course, this could raise questions about whether his ‘tranquility’ is a legitimate reason to grow GM crops despite its potential implications (e.g social and ethical aspects). Or whether by sowing GM crops it meant the creation of ‘headaches’ for others (e.g organic maize farmers). Actually, when asked about this latter question, he said that luckily in his area there were no organic farmers, so that potential conflict did not exist. Most of his neighbours were, in fact, sowing the same variety as him. However, I wonder if, perhaps, there are not organic farmers because of the potential risk of contamination.

A taste of the amazing world of honey bees

The “Man (or Woman??) of Bicorp” holding onto lianas to gather honey from a beehive as depicted on an 8000-year-old cave painting near Valencia, Spain

Last weekend I took an intensive 2 day course on honey bees and organic beekeeping. It covered many topics including bee biology and ethology, beekeeping practices, bee pathologies, product development and regulations. Bee biology and ethology is absolutely fascinating and I recommend any of you readers, to learn a bit about it. The course was very useful as it provided a broad picture of many of the issues related to the world of honey bees within the broader context of the Anthropocene.

Perhaps one of the most striking issues I learned about was about how European honey bees (Apis mellifera), through movement of the western honey bee, colonies into and out of Asia, become vulnerable to Varroa mite, an external parasitic mite that attacks Apis cerana and Apis mellifera honeybees, first in Africa and then in Europe.  Quickly, the parasite spread around the world. Populations of wild honeybees in Europe dropped dramatically almost to the point of extinction during the 1980s. Currently, Varroa has become persistent in many parts of the world, such as Spain, and the existence of these bees in these areas depends on human activities. These beekeeping activities mostly consist in conventional ‘bee farming’  which involve practices such as controlling the queens, inhibiting bees swarming, the application of toxic chemicals to control the varroa and stealing the honey (product of the bee-labour).

During the course I was introduced to different models of beekeeping. In the same way that there are  different cultures of agri/culture, there are different cultures of api/culture. These different cultures are linked to different practices, worldviews and a different relationships with bees themselves.

In Spain, organic beekeeping is extremely marginal. There are only 50 professional organic beekeepers in Spain despite it being one of the countries in Europe with the highest number of  professional beekeepers. Perhaps one of the main challenges faced is the poor understanding of what it means to be organic beekeeper in contrast to conventional beekeeping.

Over the next few months we will be exploring Beekeeping and pollination and we will keep you updated about our progress!

Reorganising Power for Systems Change

Two weeks ago I participated at The EDGE Funders Alliance Conference 2017, as a member of the local host committee in Barcelona. EDGE acts within philanthropy to raise awareness and deepen understanding of the interconnected nature of the social, economic and ecological crises threatening our common future. EDGE works to increase resources for communities and movements creating systemic change alternatives for a transition to a society that supports justice, equity and the well-being of the planet.

The Conference gathered more than 250 progressive funders & activist partners. We had the opportunity to discuss systems change in the different thematic Engagement Labs, Workshops, Walking tours, Community Meetings, Dine Arounds and Plenary Sessions with inspiring speakers and an awesome facilitator.

I am still digesting the Conference and the different type of learning experiences I had. However, I’d like to share with you three of them I found especially useful:

  1. Just transition framework: The Conference started by setting a common framework for systems change analysis. It has been developed by Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project. According to them, Just Transition requires us to build a visionary economy for life in a way that is very different than the economy we are in now. Constructing this visionary economy calls for strategies that democratize, decentralize and diversify economic activity while we damper down consumption, and (re)distribute resources and power.

 

2. Fishbowl conversation: One of the most common methodologies used at the Conference for engaging in collective discussions was the fishbowl. It is a conversation in the form of a dialogue that allows the participation of many people. It involves having a small group of people (usually 5) seated in a circle, having a conversation in full view of a larger group of listeners. There’s an empty chair in theinner circle that can be occupied by someone from the outer circle when they have something they wish to contribute to the conversation. When that is the case, a person from the inner circle has to leave the conversation so that there is always an empty chair open for new people to join. Fishbowl processes provide a creative way to include the “public” in a small group discussion. They can actually be used in a wide variety of settings, including workshops, conferences, organizational meetings and public assemblies. Fishbowls are useful for ventilating “hot topics” or sharing ideas or information from a variety of perspectives. Although largely self-organizing once the discussion gets underway, the fishbowl process usually has a facilitator or moderator. During the Conference this was a very interesting way to foster conversations.

 

3. Agroecology on the rise:  There were multiple occasions and spaces at the Conference which tried to facilitate Agroecological conversations and further collaboration between philanthropy and civil society organizations to co-create sustainable food systems rooted in social justice. In fact, many people at the Conference were involved in movements or funds that conceive of agroecology as an already-working alternative paradigm that relates not only to agrarian reform, but to climate justice, post-extractivist circular economy and social justice (including indigenous rights). I had the impression that not only is agroecology powerful, but it is expanding, increasingly in fashion, and one of the ways to move towards a Just Transition.

The Verdict of the International Monsanto Tribunal

A day after the international peasant’s day, the Monsanto Tribunal has taken place in The Hague. The International Monsanto Tribunal is a unique “Opinion Tribunal” convened as a civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, crimes against humanity, and ecocide. On the 15th and 16th of October 2016, five international and eminent judges heard different testimonies from victims, related to six main questions. Today they have delivered (livestreamed) in The Hague their legal opinion of the legal obligations and consequences of some of the activities of the Monsanto Company, following procedures of the International Court of Justice.

The Tribunal represents an important step to advance towards developing mechanisms to hold corporations accountable for social and environmental crimes. Organizing groups behind the Monsanto Tribunal include the Organic Consumers AssociationNavdanyaIFOAM Organics International, the Biovision Foundation and Regeneration International.

The tribunal has been developing its argumentation through different sections, each dealing with relevant questions related to the violations of 1) right to a healthy environment; 2) right to food; 3) right to health; 4) right to freedom for scientific research; 5) complicity in war crimes; and 6) the rights of the Earth or the crimes of ecocide.

Right to a Healthy Environment

Based on the evidence to answer Question 1, the Tribunal concludes that Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment. Specifically, it stated:

The Monsanto Tribunal hearings allowed for the gathering of testimonies related to various impacts on human health (especially on farmers), soils, plants, aquatic organisms, animal health and biodiversity. These testimonies also included the impacts of spraying crop protection products (herbicides, pesticides). In addition, the information collected also shed light on the impacts on indigenous communities and peoples in many countries, and on the absence of adequate information given to those concerned.

Right to Food

The Right to Food understands food as a fundamental right for individuals and communities. In this section, the Tribunal mentioned that the hearings accounted for negative impacts on production systems and ecosystems, the appearance of invasive species and the loss of efficiency of Roundup over time. The Tribunal highlighted some farmers were sentenced to pay royalties after their fields were contaminated by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), while others stated that the corporation is taking over the seed market, even though Monsanto’s products are not as productive as promised. In response to Question 2, the Tribunal concluded that:

Monsanto has engaged in practices that have negatively impacted the right to food. Monsanto’s activities affect food availability for individuals and communities and interfere with the ability of individuals and communities to feed themselves directly or to choose non-genetically modified seeds. In addition, genetically modified seeds are not always affordable for farmers and threaten biodiversity. Monsanto’s activities and products cause damage to soil, water and to the environment more generally. The Tribunal concludes that food sovereignty is also affected and underlines the cases in which genetic contamination of fields forced farmers to pay royalties to Monsanto or even to abandon their non-GMO crops due to this contamination. There is indeed an infringement on the right to food because of aggressive marketing on GMOs which can force farmers to buy new seeds every year. The dominant agro-industrial model can be criticized even more strongly because other models – such as agroecology – exist that respect the right to food.

Right to Health

The right to health is intertwined with the rights to food, water and sanitation, and to a healthy environment. It encompasses not only physical health but also mental and social health (the latter being right to housing, access to safe water, etc). The Tribunal recalled that Monsanto has manufactured and distributed many dangerous substances, undermining on many occasions the right to health (e.g PCBs or persistent organic pollutants were exclusively commercialized by Monsanto between 1935 and 1979, despite the fact that the company knew about their deleterious health impacts). The Tribunal also gave special mention to the (somewhat contested) risks that glyphosate poses for health and mentions the lack of scientific consensus and the existing controversy about the impacts of GMOs on human health. On this latter point, it also pointed out that:

The controversy is embedded in a context of opacity on GMO studies, and even on the inability of researchers to conduct independent research.

For all this, the Tribunal concluded that Monsanto has engaged in practices that negatively impacted the right to health.

Right to freedom indispensable for scientific research

The “freedom indispensable for scientific research” closely relates to freedom of thought and expression, as well as the right to information. The Tribunal stated that:

Some of Monsanto’s practices mentioned in the testimonies of agronomists and molecular biologists have resulted in court convictions for the company. Among those practices are: illegal GMO plantations; resorting to studies misrepresenting the negative impacts of Roundup by limiting the analysis to glyphosate only while the product is a combination of substances; massive campaigns aiming at discrediting the results of independent scientific studies. These strategies led, for example, to the withdrawal of a study published in an international journal and to the loss of a job for a scientist working in a governmental health agency.

This has led the Tribunal to consider that Monsanto’s conduct is negatively affecting the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research.

Complicity in War Crimes

This section was dealing with the 70 million liters of Agent Orange (containing dioxin) which were sprayed on approximately 2.6 million hectares of land, between 1962 and 1973, in the context of the Vietnam war. This chemical caused great harm to the Vietnamese population. However, due to the current state of international law and the absence of specific evidence, the Tribunal could not give any definitive answer on this point. Nevertheless, it noted that if the crime of Ecocide would be added in International law, the reported facts concerning the responsibility of the harm induced by Agent Orange could fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Crime of Ecocide

The international community today understands that preserving the integrity of ecosystems and a healthy environment is vital for enabling society and securing a life of dignity for present and future generations. Therefore, attacks against the health and integrity of the environment are unethical human activities and subject to criminal opprobrium. Despite the patchwork of elements of criminal environmental protections established in domestic and international environmental law, as well as in international criminal law, gaps of protection remain. The Tribunal stressed that international law has yet to articulate in precise terms criminal responsibility for the crime of ecocide, whether committed in times of peace or in the context of armed conflict.

The Tribunal understands the crime of ecocide as “causing serious damage or destroying the environment, so as to significantly and durably alter the global commons or ecosystem services upon which certain human groups rely”. This definition identifies the specific elements of material conduct that arise in the crime of ecocide. In addition to these elements, the crime of ecocide also involves general criminal elements, including: knowledge and intent; complicity; and corporate criminal responsibility. Regarding Monsanto’s conduct in relation to ecocide, the Tribunal concludes that:

if such a crime of ecocide were recognized in international criminal law, the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute a crime of ecocide. Several of the company’s activities may fall within this infraction, such as the manufacture and supply of glyphosate-based herbicides to Colombia in the context of its plan for aerial application on coca crops, which negatively impacted the environment and the health of local populations; the large-scale use of dangerous agrochemicals in industrial agriculture; and the engineering, production, introduction and release of genetically engineered crops. Severe contamination of plant diversity, soils and waters would also fall within the qualification of ecocide. Finally, the introduction of persistent organic pollutants such as PCB into the environment causing widespread, long-lasting and severe environmental harm and affecting the right of the future generations could fall within the qualification of ecocide as well.

Last but not least, the last part of the Tribunal’s argumentation was dedicated to problematising the existing and growing gap between international human rights and corporate accountability. It called for two urgent actions:

  1. The need to assert the primacy of international human and environmental rights law over international financial institutions.
  2.  The need to hold non-state actors responsible within international human rights law. Meaning that it’s time to consider multinational enterprises as subjects of law that could be sued in the case of infringement of fundamental rights.

The tribunal concluded that:

  • Monsanto has violated human rights to food, health, a healthy environment and the freedom indispensable for independent scientific research.
  • ‘ecocide’ should be recognized as a crime in international law.    
  • human rights and environmental laws are undermined by corporate-friendly trade and investment regulation.

Gatekeepers of the maize web: dryers and silos

During our research we have repeatedly discussed how important dryers and silos are as part of the necessary  infrastructure in agri-food networks (see also previous post about the network of Spanish silos and our latest paper). In this entry I aim to share some of these thoughts with you.

Infrastructure is a major element of the global economy and manages the mobility of human and nonhuman entities through physical support facilities. In the case of commercial maize crops in Spain, since practically all maize is processed, dryers and silos become essential facilities to sustain the journey of maize through the agri-food system, specifically once it has been harvested in the fields and before it is sold to maize processing companies. The drying of the grains is a key activity for creating conditions for a good storage and further processing.

Dryer and silo infrastructure is very often found together in Spanish farmer cooperatives (which are at the heart of the Spanish maize production system). This means that, in order to dry it and store it, these cooperatives mix different types of maize produced in their surroundings. It is expensive to effectively separate GM, conventional and organic maize, so if there is some GM maize in the mix, the usual practice is that all maize is labelled as GM maize. In fact, we found that only a minority of farmer cooperatives in Aragon restrict the use of GM in their facilities and there are no specific dryers for organic maize either in Catalonia or Aragon.

Therefore these infrastructures exert a tremendous amount of power over both the possibilities for maize (e.g. for becoming an organic product for human consumption) and for the existence of different agri-food systems. Dryer and silos therefore act as a kind of gatekeeper in the journey of maize through the agri-food system.

Some organic maize farmers in Aragon have told us how the lack of existance of specific organic dryers is a huge problem for them, because it means they might have to invest more in finding an alternative, such as increasing transport costs to find a dryer in a different area that handles organic maize specifically; hiring a mobile dryer to come to them (which is more expensive), or try to dry the grain in the field (the viability of which is uncertain and subject to weather conditions).

Thus, it could be said that dryers and silos are political actants, as these infrastructures have a significant capacity for shaping both social and ecological realities in rural areas. They facilitate the existence (or lack of existance) of some forms of agri/culture over others, and can trigger explicit or latent conflicts among different agri/culture systems. For instance, one of the stories we were told was about a conflict between a farmer cooperative engaged in producing, drying and storing non-GM maize for human consumption and a local animal feed company. The former had been developing a strategy for convincing its members to not sow GM maize by ensuring them higher economic benefits. That meant that most of the local farmers were sowing non-GM maize for human consumption instead of GM maize for animal feed production. So the animal feed company tried to convince the farmers to return to GM maize by internalising and covering the drying costs, thus making it cheaper for farmers if they would grow GM maize.

Do you know of other rural stories in which infrastructure can be political?

Impressions from our Stakeholders Seminar

As part of our project, during the 31st January and 1st February 2017 we held a stakeholders seminar in Tromsø, Norway on the topic: ‘Social and ‘Ethical Assessment in the Regulation of GMOs: Should we care?’

This two-day seminar aimed to explore the potential of a care ethics approach for social and ethical assessment in the regulation of GMOs. The objectives of the seminar were to a) better understand societal concerns and advance a systems approach for regulating GMOs, b) explore the extent to which a care ethics approach may provide useful guidance for operationalising the Norwegian Gene Technology Act and its requirement to assess sustainability, benefits to society and ethical justifiability, and c) to produce a short biosafety brief on the topic. Invited participants had a diverse range of profiles and interests in the issue, including farmers, processors, Norwegian regulators, consumer and environmental organisations, certification bodies and academic researchers.

After some introductory exercises that helped creating a friendly atmosphere, the first day focused on the presentation of perspectives and experiences from stakeholders in Spain, South Africa and Norway. We tried to innovate with the format, incorporating a very stimulating exercise after these presentations called “Collective Story Harvest“. Some of the academic researchers who were not asked to make any presentation were given instructions prior to the beginning of the seminar. Their role was to listen to the stakeholders experiential stories from the point of view of a specific theme we gave them. We chose 5 themes that are relevant for a care ethics framework: power, vulnerability, dependence, emotion and narrative. After listening to all the presentations, these participants shared with the rest of the group their lens analysis. They contributed to understand how these 5 concepts were enacted throughout the stories.

We learnt that power, vulnerability and dependencies were embedded in the structural aspects of the agri-food systems regarding, for example, the risk of GM contamination, the existence or inexistence of the necessary logistical facilities and even the way governance facilitates access to information. The latter aspect was actually key in many of the talks. Information and power are two sides of the same coin and lack of information availability regarding where GM crops are determines vulnerability and dependency. While paying attention to who is vulnerable, a participant noted those who take an alternative view to industrialised agriculture are definitely key victims, but also traditional crops and biodiversity. This is to say that not just people (such as farmers or citizens) are vulnerable  to the kind of choices that are being made through these power structures, but also ecosystems. She also noted the contextual nature of vulnerability, as South Africa and Spain (where GM crops are part of the rural realities) were clearly more vulnerable contexts than Norway.

Additionally, we also learnt about what role emotions can play in scientific analysis. Although the tendency is to think that emotion is the polar opposite of science, it is important to break these conventional boundaries and recognise that science is actually riddled with emotions. This recognition does not mean that we disregard science. It means that it is important to recognise that emotions are part of the realities studied by science and play a role in the stories. In fact, emotions were everywhere that day, channelled through words, images and non-verbal communication. For example, anger due to injustice came up in many different ways although was rarely directly expressed. One of the moments it was most present was during the description of the great difficulties organic farmers face to avoid GM contamination. Contrastingly, in a Norwegian presentation there was a picture of a consumer representative wearing a T-shirt with the following moto: “We Love the Norwegian Gene Technology Act”, representing how proud (and happy) certain Norwegians are about their current biotechnology legislation.

After this insightful exercise, we also had an intervention from policy making participants who also gave their thoughts on what the stakeholder participant experiences meant from a policy perspective. These participants highlighted how useful was for them to learn from experiences in countries that actually grow GMOs.

The second day focused on exploring the potential relevance of a care ethics approach for capturing the experiences and relevant issues we heard during the first day and incorporating these into regulatory assessment. We talked for hours and are currently preparing a policy brief on the topic that will be made public in some weeks.

As well as the good intellectual work, the workshop was also fun for networking and connecting with people. After the first day of work, we tried to chase the whales and the Northern Lights in an electric boat. Unfortunately, we did not succeed in this last mission but everyone enjoyed our time together and learnt a lot.

 

Some lessons on using short movies as scientific communication tools

frame-eye

During the last months, we have invested some of our time in making two animation movies that illustrate some of the issues related to our work in The Agri/Cultures Project. The idea behind these movies is to try to explore different paths for scientific communication and help bridge the gap between the scientists and (the rest of) society.

The two short movies that will be released soon are very different from one another: one explains the complexities, costs and uncertainties associated with GM detection processes and the second one tells a story of everyday forms of resistance to GM crops in Spain.

Below you can read some of the lessons I learned during the movie-making process for scientists aiming to communicate their work to non-scientists.

  1. Try to tell a narrative story: As I mentioned in a previous post, scientists and, let’s say, visual documentarists or journalists communicate quite differently.  While the former use an abstract structured discourse to advance an argument, the latter base their work on stories and characters that navigate those stories. My advice is, as much as possible and even if it’s challenging, use storytelling in your popular communication approach. All people use stories to make sense of the world we live in and thus stories are powerful tools to communicate anything. They mobilise emotions, identities and make the audience feel engaged with the characters in specific situations of conflict.
  2. Think visually (and if you can afford it, involve an artist in the process): The challenge here is not only to tell a narrative story with scientific content, but to use visual symbols to do it (rather than text). This means that if you have written a script, it might be useful if you do the exercise of thinking how this text is going to be seen and evaluate if that actually works (e.g draw a storyboard). Also, you should keep in mind that there are already existing shared symbols and it might be convenient to use them. It is also very recommendable to involve a visual artist in your work if possible, because this is actually their field of expertise.
  3. Accept and assume that this is not a scientific product aimed at scientists. This seems very basic but I think this is actually a very difficult issue for scientists. Although it’s important to maintain a high level of visual accuracy in your story (e.g if you are explaining something about water, you might want to paint water in blue, instead of orange), you might want to conceive your short movie as a very small taste of the topic you are aiming to communicate, with a couple of key messages. This means that it’s important to prioritise the information you want to communicate (and accept you have to simplify a lot). While the movie can offer a starting point to create interesting discussions around a topic, you should accept that the movie itself won’t contain all the aspects to have a systematic scientific discussion or even presentation. This tool is more limited than a text in terms of the complexity that it can capture and its main audience won’t be scientists themselves. In practical terms, this also implies that you should avoid jargon as much as possible and simplify anything that can be simplified.
  4. Share it to a non-specialised audience before releasing it: This can help you further improve the communicative aspects of the movie. Also it allows for modifications (e.g of script, images) at early stages of the movie making process.
  5. Think of the distribution channels as an essential task of the movie-making process: This is actually something we still have not done for our 2 movies, but I think it’s essential and should ideally be thought as a part of the process. I think the key idea is to broadly think of different types of people who could benefit or be interested in seeing and sharing your movies. In our case, this will probably be our diffused networks of fellow academics, students, civil society groups working on agri/cultures, Mexican farmers and journalists.

To conclude, I’d like to mention that I think short-movie making has great potential as a pedagogical tool because it implies digging into a topic and learning to prioritise what is the essential information and how to communicate it. This might be something worth exploring further in the future.

New paper published! Should Organic Agriculture Maintain Its Opposition to GM? New Techniques Writing the Same Old Story

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This new open access paper from The Agri/Cultures Project reflects on whether organic farming should accept GM technologies as an additional tool to use, especially in light of new breeding plant technologies (NBPT). Below you can find the abstract and here the full text. Enjoy!

Abstract: Biotechnology is diversifying rapidly through the development and application of new approaches to genome editing and ongoing research into synthetic biology. Proponents of biotechnology are enthusiastic about these new developments and have recently begun calling for environmental movements to abandon their campaigns against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and for organic agriculture to reconsider its exclusion of Genetic Modification (GM). In this article, we begin by describing the diversity of practices that cluster under both the terms GM and organic and show that although there is a clash of different cultures of agriculture at stake, there is also a spectrum of practices existing between these two poles. Having established the terms of the debate, we then go on to analyse whether the organic movement should reconsider its position on GM in light of new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs), using the criteria highlighted as important by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) in their 2016 draft revised position on GMOs. Through this analysis, we suggest that given the in-context-trajectory of biotechnology development, the continued narrow framing of agricultural problems and the ongoing exclusion of important socio-economic, political and cultural dimensions, the organic movement is justified in maintaining its opposition to GM in the face of NPBTs.

Steps towards an interactive website of maize systems

Ancestral-Farm

At the Agri/Cultures Project we are starting to develop an interactive website to communicate some of the research we have been doing over the last 2 years.

We have now completed the layout of four different cartographies that represent the different journeys of a kernel of maize in GM, chemically-intensive, certified organic and agroecological agri-food systems in Spain.

Now our plan is to move into the development of an interactive website based on these cartographies. On the one side, with this website we would like to offer the possibility of exploring each of the different agri-food systems, for instance by visiting certain locations or nodes and learning some of the aspects that characterize it (e.g some actors, legislation, history, co-technologies, other actants etc). On the other side, we aim to offer a way to be able to comparefield-trails these systems and facilitate the identification of their main differences.

Our working team on this elements of the project has expanded as we are working with a fantastic illustrator and great programmer and we expect to develop this interactive product together with them over the next year.

We have barely begun the planning and already we have to start thinking about server-related questions (e.g where should the site be hosted? how much space will we need? for how long do we want the website to be active?). Working with this is novel terrain for all of us but we are very excited to start developing this new stage of the project and think it can become an attractive and innovative way to communicate science. For this, we will be bringing our interdisciplinary research into the – also interdisciplinary – domains of science communication and art. We expect this collaboration to produce a useful tool for education purposes and to learn a bunch during the whole process.

Keep track of our next developments!